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Jim Furtado
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Andrew Heaney Newsbeat

Monday, June 27, 2016

Angels pitchers Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney hoping stem-cell treatment helps them avoid Tommy John surgery

When Garrett Richards left his last outing at Texas on May 1, he felt arm fatigue. The club said he was dehydrated and cramping. A subsequent MRI revealed rather he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, a setback that requires Tommy John ligament replacement surgery for most pitchers.

The standard recovery takes up to 18 months.

Richards, instead, hopes to avoid the daunting post-surgery timetable and pitch again in a potential wild-card race thanks to a stem-cell shot he received last month from Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

“It’s an option, and I decided to take it,” Richards said. “Why not?”

So, on May 16, Yoon extracted bone marrow from Richards, concentrated it and injected the mixture back into the UCL in his elbow, aiming to repair the injured ligament.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Angels pitchers opt for stem-cell therapy |

Interesting stuff.

Six years ago, Yoon began treating partial UCL tears with platelet-rich plasma injections, wherein a patient’s blood is spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets, which contain healing elements that are then injected into the affected area.

Yoon found that PRP worked for about 50 percent of patients. But in that time he also experimented with the use of stem cells from concentrated bone marrow and “noticed that the success rates, anecdotally, were much higher with regards to pitchers going back to throwing, and not having to undergo surgery.”

Yoon estimates that he has performed stem-cell procedures on 15 to 20 Major League pitchers and that “less than 50 percent” ultimately needed Tommy John surgery, though he is not allowed to reveal the names of his patients. The results can be misleading, in both directions, because success is contingent on the type of tear and the amount of time allotted for healing.

Dr. David Crane, who specializes in regenerative therapy for Blue Tail Medical Group in the Midwest, said he has done about 50 of these stem-cell procedures since 2004, the vast majority of them for pitchers in high school and college. About five were Major Leaguers, and Crane said only one wound up needing Tommy John surgery. He claims to have a 90-percent success rate overall, but he is also picky with the patients he chooses.

Said Crane: “If it’s a partial tear, and they still have the healing potential, and the stem cells from bone marrow are good, it’s a useful tool.”

Jim Furtado Posted: May 27, 2016 at 09:43 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew heaney, angels, garrett richards, tommy john surgery



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